Surface Go 3 Review

Microsoft has absolutely blasted the competition out of the park with their Surface Pro’s and Surface Laptops. Their formfactor with surprising amounts of power have made for the most premium of work and play devices. So how does the third iteration of their mini device the Surface Go hold up?

Well it depends on what you want to use the Surface Go 3 for.

It’s so little

The obvious benefit that the Surface Go 3 has is a 10.5 inch screen which is the same as previous models. The benefit to consistency can’t be understated when you have a stack of accessories, but also it means this device has a purpose that bigger counterparts don’t. It is more of a tablet.

This little beast is perfect for using on a mini train table, or when you are using it to read a long document or book. The size makes it super practical to replace your tablet, but it likely won’t replace your laptop or desktop.

So is the battery

The biggest issue that I encountered is the battery life. It boasts an 11 hour battery which I didn’t manage to replicate. I easily got a work day out of it when I used it casually to read documents, do some writing like this review, and watch movies on my commute. When I had it under proper load like using Chrome and running a few apps I easily stripped it in an hour.

Pretty big features though

The Surface Go 3 has a modest upgrade in power from the Surface Go 2 but nothing massive.What is impressive is the screen, cameras and sound. It belted out some high quality sound when I was watching videos. That and the video quality was pretty extraordinary given the size. I jammed some Netflix and Youtube, you know, scientific tests right here. But I was happy with the experience.

The webcam at the front is a 5MP model that can achieve 1080p at 30fps. On the rear is the 8MP camera which is fine for a photo if you needed it in a pinch but it wasn’t that great. But in reality when it comes to web cams, it is so people can see your lovely face on Teams and Zoom meetings. Given the size of this device, I am sure your friends will love the view up your nose. Or you can put it on something so it is at eyeline, whatever suits. Sorry to my friends that got a lovely up nose shot when testing.

It can see you

I was impressed with the Windows Hello 3D camera. This lets you unlock the device with your face and it works so damn well. No matter which way my messy beard pointed it recognised who I was. Even in variable lighting it was good at spotting me.

It didn’t recognise who I was behind a mask. Now I know that is an unrealistic expectation, but the new normal is us wearing masks 80% of the time. So if Microsoft can figure out some tech to recognise who I am behind a mask that would be great. Wait, that could be creepy. Can they find a way to recognise me through masks, but it only works on my laptop. The more I think about this the less of a smart idea of this face scanning tech that can see through things is.  

Actually scratch the whole idea. I’ll use my pin when I have a mask on.

You can buy so much more

As with all the Surface devices, you don’t have to stop at the Go 3. You can buy the mini keyboard and a pen to make your Surface life even better. They work well, as all the surface suite of hardware does, and is absolutely perfect if you need to type on the go. The on screen keyboard will definitely do in a pinch but the detachable keyboard is far superior.

Though to be fair if you have big lunky hands like I do that little keyboard gets pretty awkward, but again it depends on what you need the device for. If you are doing a lot of typing then you might be better suited looking at the Surface Pro or Surface Laptop. For that ability to do plenty of typing in a pinch, it’s pretty damn good.

Windows 11

This slick new Go comes with the slick new Windows 11. So what better time to take the new OS out for a test drive. Well I can honestly say … I am having mixed feelings. The start button has been centralised along with the majority of the task bar. It certainly has a feeling like the operating system that shall not be named. Oh wait, I don’t work for Microsoft… It feels a bit like MacOS.

Now I should note it feels a bit like MacOS, but that doesn’t mean it is MacOS. The same settings and open Windows File Explorer are still here. So it looks like that OS and feels nice to use once you are used to it, but is functional the way we expect from Windows. In fact it didn’t take long to adjust to and start liking this new look.

If you have been using Windows 10 for a while then you have probably started navigating the Start menu by clicking it and typing anyway. This functionality is absolutely critical with Windows 11 because the Start Menu feels a bit more like a mobile phone’s front screen. That’s not the only thing Windows 11 does like a mobile phone.

You can download the Amazon App store and start running Android apps…as long as they are supported. This means it is super easy to install apps like Kindle and your tablet winds up with the best of both worlds. Windows and Android apps in harmony. 

The OS is in its early days so no doubt there are features coming. I did find when the Surface Go 3 started up it took a while to load. Now I don’t know if that is because of the OS, the power of the tablet, or a combination of the two but it did underwhelm there a little.

You can Go get 3 if you need

I have been a little critical of the device, but that is kinda my job. This is a review after all. Ultimately this device is perfect if you need what it offers. The limited battery life and limited specs will mean it is likely to be anyones main device, but if you use a tablet for e-reading or video watching, then this one will smash that for you.  

It comes with the benefits that the Windows OS under the hood offers that many other tablets don’t offer. Starting from $720 for the lowest end model, even for tablets this is pretty cheap.

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